Instructure Alumni
Instructure Alumni

InstructureCon 2015 Public Postmortem

tl;dr: This is an open discussion where you all can publicly share your qualitative thoughts and feedback about InstructureCon 2015! Please post before reading the comments from others. Then feel free to reply to others!

So InstructureCon 2015 came, took our breath away (thanks Olivia), and now it's over. Fortunately the great sessions, ideas, and connections we made, can live on within our Canvas Community and the InstructureCon 2015 community space!

Please be sure to take that survey that our marketing team sends out, so we can make instcon even better next year. That quantitative feedback is invaluable.

In addition we wanted to have an open discussion where you all can publicly share your qualitative thoughts and feedback about InstructureCon 2015!

Here's some things you might want to talk about: the sessions, the keynotes, the general sessions, the activities, the online schedule, the printed schedule, opportunities to connect, ideas for the community team to improve community interaction and engagement.

Thanks for your help Canvas Community...  We ❤️ you!

Onward and upward!

Please @mention other community friends or use the "Share" tool to encourage others to offer their feedback as well!

talk about a #ff FYI:

 @scottdennis ​,  @Renee_Carney ​,  @biray ​,  @shauna_vorkink ​,  @kona ​,  @clong ​, awilliams​,  @mjennings ​,  @travis_thurston ​,  @ewander ​,  @seanmichaelmorr ​,  @jared ​,  @scottdennis ​,  @G_Petruzella ​, Deactivated user​,  @canvas_admin ​,  @mfgu ​,  @tdelillo ​,  @hvaughn ​,  @ted_coopman ​, 229780​,  @sbastian ​,  @kschneider25 ​,  @jmunoz1 ​,  @anthonem ​, st2840​,  @rseilham ​, Deactivated user​,  @jward ​,  @dlyons ​, Deactivated user​, Deactivated user​, JGarton​, 504417​,  @bacherts ​,  @SethBattis ​,  @mlattke ​, Deactivated user​, erinhallmark​,  @sabsmith ​,  @adam_b_nemeroff ​

126 Replies

Thanks Deactivated user​, it was great meeting you in person! I have posted a blog post, The Canvas Podcast Wants Your #instcon Experiences​, for anyone who would be interested in recording and sharing their experiences with me for inclusion in the podcast. I can't wait to see the discussion here as well!

I'm so bummed I didn't get to meet you this year!  I was watching for you!

New Member

Okay, I promised Jordan I would try and spend time in community spaces, so even though I am a bit wiped out, here goes:

First, lots of comparisons with past instructurecons. Things change, Canvas grows, so you have to let each Instructurecon be it's own Instructurecon.

Second, don't mean to get semi-mental here, but really believe Canvas is the best thing that has happened to education in the US in decades. Instructure had cracked open the edu tech market in a serious way and has done so much to bring some needed light into what had become a dark space. Thanks for caring enough to try.


Big wins:


  • The reduced volume of schwag was balanced out by quality. Loved the hats and those jackets are nice!
  • Instructure staff, simply the best people around and I would extend that to the Canyons people, super helpful and nice.
  • I had some great takeaways from sessions and met a lot of great folks from all over. Big shout out to Shannon Hight - and the Tacoma Community College crew, always awesome!
  • Portable charger for presenters was the best and most useful schwag ever! I already used it!

And many thanks to those who came to my last day, last session, presentation Always On: Transmediating the University Course. What a great crowd!


  • Many venues were overly packed and often SRO.
  • Glossy schedule looked great (graphics amazing overall) but people like to make notes in the schedule and the black background was not helpful here. Yes, Jordan and his crew had the awesome app, but sometimes analog is best...
  • Session descriptions need work. Heard from many people that they wound up in sessions that turned out to be out of their league or simply not what they expected. Brevity is great, but missed the notations on what tracks sessions were in. I think the submission process needs some work, perhaps a form where would-be presenters can add in some information such as the target audience, intended takeaways, and complexity level. This would make the selection process more satisfying.
  • Missed the lightening rounds.

Still a bit blown-out (in a good way) - will post more if I think of anything.

Ditto the comments on the black background schedule. I did not use that at all because i forgot my silver or bronze Sharpies. Smiley Happy

This was my first InstructureCon, so I can't compare. However I can give me opinion on my experience:

Big wins:

  • entertainment - blew me away. Great music, and the movie selections were great. I do wonder, in the planning did Grease come first or Olivia Newton-John?
  • Food - I did lose 2 lbs. but I attribute that to the hill climbing. Thanks for all of the water.
  • Keynotes. I have to agree that Derek Muller was my top choice. As a long time subscriber to his YouTube channel I was excited to hear him speak. I was not disappointed.  KEYNOTE: DEREK MULLER (instcon15)
  • Swag was great. I can always use another Canvas t-shirt and, while I don't normally wear hats, it was great to block the sun. The jacket was over the top.
  • The Instructure staff is amazing. It is obvious why Instructure is as great as it is. The Canyons staff treated us like we were family.


  • Many venues were overly packed and often SRO - what a good problem to have. At least I only had to stand for 30 minutes.
  • I agree that the program was amazing, awesome, and difficult to use the way that I wanted to.
  • The PowerPoint theme was NOT accessible. Yellow on White?? Hmmm.

The bottom line is, you guys all rock. You should be extremely proud.

Ted, I have to agree about the schedule. It seems to me that Instructure has always been color challenged.  Poor contrast on websites, very poor contrast in Canvas only slightly improved with the contrast upgrade awhile back, light yellow text on a white background on one of their websites, and of course that schedule in black.

Suggest Instructure hire two consultants: a design consultant, and an accessibility consultant, then make them work in the same room together!

Love Canvas and Instructure, but there are certain little things that just don't work well. Perhaps it is because they do the bid things so well, that we notice the small stuff.

Coach Emeritus

This was #instcon number four for me and I loved it! Here are a few of the things I loved the most:

  1. Unconference- Basically we had an EdCamp at instcon 2015 but didn't call it that.   @seanmichaelmorr ​ and Chris Friend did a great job getting this together and making it happen. This was the most authentic, student-centered​ learning experience of the whole conference. In fact, if I only got to go to the unconference, I'd leave the conference more than satisfied. The best part about the uncon was it was active and connected learning at its best. I've always said the best part of any conference is the people who come to the conference, and in these sessions we got to take our learning back. This was truly learning of the people, by the people and for the people! No slides, no pre-canned content, no spectating. Truly everyone played a part and were authentically engaged. awilliams​ facilitated a great session on Active Listening and Rapid Integration​ and it was great to hear some many people share their experiences, ideas and different perspectives and that was just session #1. I could probably write an entire blog post on this, but I stop here. Hats of to Instructure for taking a risk and trying something new, hopefully this will grow and become a staple at future Instructure conferences.
  2. Sessions- Most people come to a conference to learn something in the sessions they attend and I think every session I went to was well prepared, organized and right on the mark! Not only that, I thought the tips, tricks, content and pedagogy was deeper than any of the other instructure cons. Yes, I got to stand outside of the doorways some of them were so packed, but I've seen this at other big conferences like CUE and I actually liked standing for a couple of sessions. (too much sitting, makes me disengage and uncomfortable)
  3. Keynotes- I loved all of them! I always like hearing from Josh and he was such a good sport to indulge us with a #JoshCoates Keynote Bingo win, but more than that his point of being empathetic and using that to be a better person and designer was heartfelt and smart. I have caught myself more than a couple of times already (not being empathetic) and it's something I will be working on. I also loved the MIMI ITO (instcon15)​ keynote! She had lots of relevant data to show us and her challenge to connect students to learning mentors is spot on. Lastly KEYNOTE: DEREK MULLER (instcon15)​ was awesome! Being a high school physics teacher for 18 years, his message resonated with me and of course he is one of my learning heroes! I could write a whole blog post on that keynote as well and I think his point may be the toughest one of all. It is really harder to unlearn than to learn and in most cases we don't address that with students or teachers (professional development). Watch The Backwards Brain Bicycle​ for further food for thought here.
  4. Product- I am liking what I've seen from the product group. The new UX looks pretty good, I'm not a fan of the colored squares and wish it looked more like what  @GideonWilliams ​ posted in his comments here. I think Speedgrader 2.0​ and the new Gradebook Features are shaping up nicely and will be well received! Overall, I think things are headed in the right direction and I like the vision on enhancing core quality!
  5. People- Saving the best for last! The best thing about instcon was connecting with and getting to know some of the amazing people at the conference! This includes the employees and attendees. This could be another post Smiley Wink.  Another kudos to Instructure for organizing a game night​! When you have an employee like Canvas Guides specialist Deactivated user​ drive an hour just to come to game night​ and stay to the very end (well past midnight) that redefines the adage of going the extra mile! I'm afraid I'm going to leave someone out but I'll give it a shot. Here's a special shout-out to some of the people I was able to connect with at instcon15​  @kona ​  @James_Kocher_UF ​  @kenneth_larsen ​  @travis_thurston ​  @scottdennis ​  @Renee_Carney ​ awilliams​  @seanmichaelmorr ​  @G_Petruzella ​  @mjennings ​  @racquelnedden ​  @mloble ​ Deactivated user​ Deactivated user​ Deactivated user​  @shauna_vorkink ​ Deactivated user​ Deactivated user​ Deactivated user​ Deactivated user​  @James ​  @mlattke ​ sara.chai​  @canvas_admin ​ Deactivated user​ Deactivated user​ Deactivated user​  @KristinL ​

Recommendations for Next TIme:

  1. Use something like to run the scheduling part of the event. I realize we want people in the new community but I just don't think Jive is optimal for this task. is super easy both on admin and users and has more than enoguh features to make a big impact. You could also try to address the room problem by having people pick their sessions early (maybe a badge for that) then reallocate rooms based on this.
  2. Make a Q&A convo with the keynote speakers a session that starts in the first session breakout right after the keynote.
  3. Give a little more love to the unconference : )

Thanks for the mention Chris.

The unconference format is one that I see a lot more of in conferences/events. Teach meets are one such thing. An informal gathering of people where you can do 2minute or 5minute talks/show and tells on an area that is randomly drawn out of a hat. Works really well and often you see examples of outstanding practice. Search for teachmeet on Google to get further ideas....


Sent from my iPad

I made it to one of the unconference sessions--but only by the skin of my teeth!  I saw one tweet about it, asked three helpdesk people where it was, and nobody had any idea taht it was even going on.  I know an unconference is supposed to be loose and informal, but this was a little too loose!  The session I attended was very helpful, and I certainly would have attended more had I known it was scheduled.  Next time--let us in on the secret!

Big yes on the the Q&A convo right after the keynotes, would have really liked to have a chance for a conversation with a smaller group of people who were into it. Great Idea Chris!


Agree 100% about using or something similar. Between time zone issues and different devices and Wi-Fi issues, something simple and clear for keeping track of sessions was sorely needed.

I really hope the UnConference grows as well - I wish I could have attended all of the sessions, but the energy and focus was just awesome.

Coach Emeritus

This was my third instcon​ and while things have changed (a little more corporate than grassroots), I had a great time and have to echo  @ted_coopman ​ that I think Canvas is one of the best things to happen to ed tech.


  • Venue - I really love the Canyons Resort and even after hiking back and forth between the Hyatt and Silverado more times than I can count, I'm still a major fan.
  • Sundial tent - As much as I liked the Forum, I felt like I could focus more on the content of the keynote because I wasn't fighting the weather or people moving around.
  • uncon​ - Yes, yes, yes! I wish more of the regular conference was like the unconference, led by  @seanmichaelmorr . In all honesty the biggest takeaways that are going to change how I teach and use Canvas, as well as what I think about teaching and learning in general, came from the uncon. My suggestion and what I would love to see is having an unconference track running throughout the conference. I picture having different themes, picked by conference attendees prior to the conference, and then people could get together in a room and just talk & collaborate about that topic. Kind of similar to hacknight​
  • ​hack night - This was my second hacknight/course hack and I love the open atmosphere that allows people to get together and talk/collaborate/help each other/etc.
  • game night​ - I didn't get a chance to participate in any games (I had to pack), but I spent some time hanging out in Kokopelli and it looked like it was an amazing time and if they hold it again next year I'm packing early and will definitely be there!!
  • Entertainment - As usual the entertainment was amazing and I really appreciate the effort Instructure makes to find interesting and fun things for the evening.
  • Keynotes - Overall high quality, but the highlight was definitely Derek Muller! His presentation showed student centered learning at its finest!
  • swag​ - Yes, loved the swag and I agree about the quality over quantity.
  • Speaker gift - Wow, just wow! The portable charger was not only awesome looking, but the best speaker gift I've gotten from any conference. I charged it the day I got it and used it throughout the conference! Love that it was actually useful/helpful for the conference and something I'll continue to use (and show off!)
  • The People - I saved the best for last because by far the best part of the conference are the people, both attendees and Instructure employees. I can't count the meaningful/interesting/fun/educational conversations I had with all types of people. From the golf cart drivers (who are awesome), to conference attendees, conference presenters, CSM's, the product development team, the (amazing) Community Team, everyone is always so friendly and willing to talk and share.


  • Conference Program - it was cool and slick looking... and ineffective for its primary use - to help you keep track of which sessions you want to attend, are interested in, want to make sure and watch the video afterwards, etc.
  • Very similar sessions at the exact same time - there were a couple of cases where it seemed like very very similar courses were at the same time, which was unfortunate for the presenters (who got fewer attendees) and audience (who had to pick between the two sessions). It would have been nice if these sessions had been spread out a  bit.
  • Yellow text on white background for the official PowerPoint slides. Even when the screen was huge, it was almost impossible to read what the yellow text said.
  • Not enough time between sessions - Given the way the conference is spread out (which I don't really mind) and the often small rooms (which is troublesome) it's often very difficult to get to all the sessions you want to see and get a seat or even in the room!
  • Not enough time to do everything! Not sure if Instructure can figure out a way to stop or slow time during InstructureCon, but I seriously didn't have enough time to do and see everything I wanted to or talk to everyone I wanted to talk with! I was going to bed after midnight and up before 6am (thanks time change) and still couldn't fit everything in!

Overall this was a great conference and I left feeling enthusiastic and excited about changes and the direction Canvas is heading (new UI!!) and changes I'm going to make to my fall hybrid/flipped class. Keep up the good work and huge kudos to all the Instructure employees who work hard to make it magic for all the attendees!

Hi Kona,

Shoot! Somehow I completely missed hearing anything about the unconference, it sounded awesome. Guess it was a combination of teaching my summer class and crashing my bike. Jordan was right, I need to pay more attention in the community space.


 @ted_coopman , it's a shame you didn't know about the uncon​. sadpanda

Hopefully it will happen again next year and with a bit more fanfare! Smiley Happy

Community Contributor

When I heard about uncon, I had already signed up for precons.  I will plan differently next year.  Or, maybe the uncon can be before the precons?

Hello Kona,

Like many other mentioned, I missed the unconference as well. Thank you for providing the link! I plan to dig around.



Wow, I really think this needs a "must post before seeing other posts" flag. How do I follow  @ted_coopman ​,  @clong ​ &  @kona ​? They have pretty much converted everything I would have said. But I quess I will try.

This was my 2nd InstructureCon, but the first where I came by myself. This made for a different experience because I did not have the comfort of a well known co-worker to hangout with. Knowing this, I intentionally reached out to others in the community. This was a true blessing, because the community is truely one of the best I have ever been a part of.

Keynote: All three were fantastic and I really liked having it in the Sundial Tent. The #JoshCoates Keynote Bingo​ was amazing as well as helped keep me engage. Although I do still feel a bit cheated that it was given to us. On the serious side KEYNOTE: JOSH COATES (instcon15)​ was great and on point.  We can not have SCL​ without more empathy.  Learning happens with human connection. KEYNOTE: MIMI ITO (instcon15)​ hit that home as well. We all got to where we are because of how other people poured into us. We all have learning heroes to thank. We also need to go and become those heroes to others. KEYNOTE: DEREK MULLER (instcon15)​ wrapped it up with a truly engaging & active presentation that demonstrated what student centered learning​ is like. Very strong keynotes.

Sessions: The sessions were great as always. I'm am in agreement that there needs to be more time between because I missed or walked in late to several sessions because I could not get there from where I was. Sometimes the rooms were overflowing and there was just no way to get in.  Not sure how to do it, but may getting so polling prior to the conference on the sessions to better utilize the space. I also like the Q&A with the keynote speaker idea as a session immediately after the keynote. There were sessions that were very similar running a at the same time, ever right next door to each other such as Strategies for Teaching Very Large Course in Canvas​ and my session, Canvas and the Mega Course Factory​. Large enrollment course is an area I am interested in and I would have loved to have gone to johnpj​'s session to how they may handle it different for us.

Events: Fabulous. While it ran late, I think maybe having something like GAME NIGHT (instcon15)​ on Tuesday night would be nice. I met a lot of great people only to leave the next day. It would be a great "ice breaker" event. HACK NIGHT (instcon15)​ & COURSE HACK NIGHT (instcon15)​ were also great, but still a bit intimidating to know exactly how to jump in.

Other thoughts: swag is great as always, vendors night time the first night was a great way to give them exposure, food trucks are awesome, sunscreen stations saved my bald head all week, graphics and program were wonderfully designed, but I do like to write in my book so black pages made that tough.

I don't want to end on a negative, so know that this conference is one of the highlight of my year and has the best people in the world. Until next year...

 @mjennings ​, I think you are spot on with having game night on Tuesday! Great idea!

Great observation  @mjennings ​ about HACK NIGHT (instcon15)​ & COURSE HACK NIGHT (instcon15)​ night being intimidating.  I remember feeling that way when I would come in as a participant.  Do you have some ideas as to how to make it less intimidating?  I would love to hear input on how we can help others feel like they can jump in.

0 Kudos

Well,  first I would have an entrance exam.  If you could not utilize 15 APIs using, Ruby, Python, PHP  you would not be allowed in.  Those that would be allowed in get job offers? 

Seriously, you could set hack night up as a 15 minute presentation and then all go to their perspective corners.   During the presentation you have one of us lowly, just learning to hack nerds speak to the audience about how accessible the hack giants are.  At least I found the all stars to be very approachable and not condescending at all.

If I have the opportunity to go to Instructurecon 2016 I will put in a session proposal ' Noob to Hack in One Year'.  This presentation would highlight my personal journey, how to find beginning resources, and what you need to make the magic happen.  Do you think that would be worthwhile?

Great session idea, David! I think that would resonate with a lot of people.

 @Renee_Carney ​,

Sorry to be so long in getting back to your question. I went straight on vacation after the conference and am just getting caught back up. As for thoughts on HACK NIGHT (instcon15)​ & COURSE HACK NIGHT (instcon15)​ being less intimidating, I am not quite sure exactly. One of my favorite things is that it is very open and you can come and go. this allows people to move in and out as the get questions answered. This year I had no "particular" problems that I wanted to try and get solved. So I enjoyed just getting at a table and taking in what others were doing. It did feel a bit weird to eavesdrop on other people's issues. I saw where someone recommend maybe trying to distinguish areas or tables for specific issue types. It was also difficult to know who the "experts"  were as not all the experts work for Canvas. Maybe having some way to know who is there to help answer questions and when they are available. I walked in about 15 minutes after it started and all of the tables on the hack night side were hopping and everyone looked intent on what they were doing so I headed over to the course hack side.

Not sure it this is helpful, but those are my rambling thoughts. Again I was there more to listen and offer my thoughts & perspective if someone wanted them.


Very helpful!  Thank you!!!!

Community Champion

I loved Instructurecon 2015.  It was a great conference.  My comments are to improve the conference and not negatively critical.

  • The network was terrible
  • The location is beautiful, but I think holding the conference lacking in my in one or two buildings would be beneficial. Much time was lost in traveling.
    • The shuttles did help
  • Each breakout session should have tables for attendees.
  • 2 sessions were overflowing and I missed one of those because there simply was no room foe me.
  • i would like PowerPoints and other files available on the date of presentation, preferably prior to the presentation
  • Very picky here... Most of the food was lacking in my opinion.

Except for the networking issues this conference was the best I have attended in years.  Keynotes, sessions, entertainment, and energy were great.  I learned enough at my sessions to fill my year with projects to improve my institution's use of Canvas. I am very glad I attended.

Community Participant

This was my first year at Instructurecon. I have to say, having been at around 50 education conference in the last ten years, I’ve never felt more welcome and taken care of at another event. Top among all of my Pros is the Instructure staff. They were plentiful, helpful, and fun loving. They set the tone in both the entertainment as well as the conference session. Kudos to the company for its awesome culture and ensuring that it translates to the event.

Other notes:

  • The venue: beautiful, big, and the forum was a great location to network and party. The session rooms were well equipped (though far too small as other have noted) and the tents were comfortable (except for the chairs)
  • Keynotes: All three speakers were fun and inspiring. Mimi and Derek set excellent examples of engaging a big audience. Josh was entertaining and enthusiastic, but I wish he’d have connected the empathy theme with something related to the conference (eg “Empathy lets educators put themselves in a student’s shoes and Instucture in educator’s shoes”)
  • Minimum number of vendor sessions. Yeah for more opportunities for peers to lead sessions!
  • Branding and theme might seem like a superficial part of the event, but I thought it was fun and set a great tone.
  • Session themes: tracks, or at least icons, in the program would have been great to identify k-12 sessions, coder-friendly sessions, and sessions for those new to Canvas or advanced Canvas users.
  • Session timing: 30 minutes simply isn’t enough. 45 minute sessions with 15 minutes in between would have been much better to allow for Q&A as well as travel time between venues.
  • Pre-conference workshops: breakfast and lunch for attendees of pre-conference workshops would have been a welcome addition. There was only one restaurant open for breakfast and they seemed to be taking advantage of that with exceptionally high prices for low quality food.

All in all, it was an excellent week and I’m excited to attend again!

New Member

This was my third instcon and I must admit I walked away this year feeling a little, blah.


  • Venue - I normally really love the Canyons Resort. The outdoor space is fantastic and the staff are always so pleasant. However, this year the air conditioner was broken and it took 3 phone calls to get it fixed. Plus, we never received bedding for a pull out couch my colleague slept on. Not a deal breaker, but we will stay in a different hotel next year.
  • Sundial tent - The outdoor space is one of my favorite things. I understand it snowed last year, but I found myself missing most of the sessions held in the tent.
  • uncon - No clue what this was or is. Once I read all the comments I feel like it would have benefited me greatly. How do we get on the "list" to know about this in the future.
  • game night - I didn't get a chance to participate in any games since I was flying out so early but love the idea.
  • Entertainment - It was okay. 
  • swag - Liked the shirt. The rest was okay. I will probably use mine to give away to faculty during the academic year because they are the true rock stars and deserve all the goodies. Some people seemed to be special or have the inside track to get more stuff, guess I am not one of them.  I don't drink so it would have been nice to exchange drink punches for swag.
  • Speaker gift - Great! I am going to use it like crazy, if I don't lose it first Smiley Happy
  • The People - I saved the best for last because by far the best part of the conference are the people, both attendees and Instructure employees. I can't count the meaningful/interesting/fun/educational conversations I had with all types of people. From the golf cart drivers (who are awesome), to conference attendees, conference presenters, CSM's, the product development team, the (amazing) Community Team, everyone is always so friendly and willing to talk and share.--totally copying  @kona ​ on this one. Could not have said it better.


  • Conference Program - Black background? Next time, please give out white pens or something if you are going to have a black background. Looks super cool but not effective.
  • Very similar sessions at the exact same time-5 sessions on rubrics, badges, and 1:1. None of them taught me anything I didn't already know from the Canvas guides.
  • Yellow text on white background for the official PowerPoint slides. Even when the screen was huge, it was almost impossible to read what the yellow text said.--Ditto
  • Rooms not big enough--people were leaving before one session ended to get a spot in the next session. Drinks got spilled, people stepped on, etc.all in the name of a seat. Rooms need to accommodate more people and provide more time between sessions.

Now to the blah. I love a good conference. It doesn't have to be a musical or over-the-top. I don't need former celebrities or flashing lights to make me happy, but what I do require is to learn something new. And this year, I didn't. The first year I went, I learned so much and was so excited and for the last two years, it just seems to be on repeat. The conference is geared towards newbies and coders. I don't want to be the Debbie downer of the group so I will leave my criticism for the evaluation but I just wish I had learned something, anything that I could have taken back to my school and implemented in the Fall. Honestly, not sure if I will spend the money to go back next year.

229780, The uncon​ was kind of like a non-secret secret. I found out about it at the very very bottom of the monthly CSM newsletter back on April 8, 2015. See image to the left.

As soon as I found out about it I tweeted about it - alluding to finding an #instcon Easter Egg. I then continued to tweet about it every so often as we got closer to the conference. Also, once the new Community got up and going, I started posting things here about the uncon.

From what I've been able to gather, it seems that it wasn't advertised that much because Instructure didn't want people picking the free uncon over the paid pre-conference sessions. For me it wasn't an issue because I wasn't planning on attending any pre-conference sessions. In addition, I know a number of people did both a pre-conference session or two and the uncon.

As to your desire to learn something new, it seems that the #uncon would have been great for you and I'm sorry you missed it. For me, I didn't really go to any conference sessions about how to use different features and instead focused more on sessions like Multitasking, Humanizing, How the Brain works, etc. Yet, what I think would be wonderfully amazing for super high-end users who have been there, done that, and have 3+ years of #instcon t-shirts to prove it, is to have an uncon running side by side with the regular conference. Think about it? What to really talk about discussions and the pedagogy of discussions? Let's have an open session on it. What about creative ways to engage student in online courses? Let's break into groups and share what we do! This is what I find inspiring and engaging and why I think an uncon track would make a great addition to #instcon 2016! Smiley Happy

In regards to swag...

"Some people seemed to be special or have the inside track to get more stuff." For this I think it's a combination of things:

  • Vendors were giving out extra swag, but you needed to go talk with them to get the really good stuff.
  • Following #instcon on Twitter and seeing where they are giving out something extra.
  • Being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes they handout extra swag to people who attend the evening events.
  • There were at least a few groups of users that got some extra swag for helping out and doing extra stuff for Canvas. The ones I'm aware of are Canvas Coaches, Canvassadors, and Project Khaki.

"I don't drink so it would have been nice to exchange drink punches for swag." - I am ALL for this!! I don't drink either so I spent my drink punches making friends (offering to "buy" someone a drink when they ran out) and getting cranberry juice (I needed something a little more than water, but don't drink soda). I would have loved the option to get an extra t-shirt, hat, or jacket to take home and uses as prizes for my faculty!

Not sure why I got this message. The information provided is not relevant to my remarks….I did read these on another person’s post, but not mine.

Thank you,

Buffy Matthews

MGCCC eLearning Coordinator

PO BOX 609

Perkinston, MS 39573

Office: 601-928-6956<><>;

 @buffy_matthews , You got my messages because I replied to this Discussion after you posted your response. Once you post something to a discussion you'll get a notification every time anyone posts regardless of whether it's to your post or not. To turn this off you would need to go to your Preferences (click on your image icon) and adjust your email preferences.

Not sure why I got this message. The information provided is not relevant to my remarks….I did read these on another person’s post, but they were not included in my responses.

Thank you,

Buffy Matthews

MGCCC eLearning Coordinator

PO BOX 609

Perkinston, MS 39573

Office: 601-928-6956<><>;

New Member


One thing that I forgot to mention earlier is that I would wish that the conference had been a more "green." Last year they gave everyone water bottles (I brought it and used it again but kicked my self for forgetting my travel coffee mug) and lots of water fill-up stations. The sheer volume of plastic disposable water bottles was alarming. This also goes for the disposable plates and flatware - that is an epic amount of trash. While it certainly takes a lot of water to wash dishes that is not a particular problem there (as opposed to CA and our drought). I would guess this is a direct cost and convenience issue, but the larger costs and the externalities should be factored in. I would pay more for a greener event - and I say that having paid my own freight these last two years.


I agree. Re-usable water bottles are a pretty easy solution, and I was glad I had mine.

Community Member

This is my third InstructureCon​ and I must say that I left feeling disappointed. In years past, I've come away with so much information that I wanted to implement at my institution. This year, I left with almost no new information.

Venue - the venue is absolutely beautiful and refreshing. I love the ability to have some of the conference functions outside! I really wish we wouldn't have used the Sundial Tent for speakers...Instructure Staff - always extremely friendly and helpful. Couldn't ask to work with a better group of individuals!!

Swag - Canvas always does an excellent job on their swag! The jackets would have been great for cooler weather in Utah. I love the t-shirt and hat.


Sessions - there were too many of the same types of sessions (ex. Badges, Implementation, Rubrics). If you heard one, you heard them all. The sessions should be set in three stages: (1) Beginner (2) Intermediate (3) Advanced (coding, etc). I found that we either were way too beginner for me or too advanced, as I am not a coder. I took absolutely NO new information home...Smiley Sad

Activities - It feels like I am in an episode of Groundhogs Day. Similar activities every year. You always have fun games to play, you always hae food carts one night, you always show movies, etc. There is really no difference, except you give it a new name/theme.

New Orleans Mardi Gras Night - You were WAY off the mark! Someone should have done some research on that one. The cuisine, music, and culture were wrong. It honestly gave people the incorrect view of southern cajun cuisine and beautiful jazz music. There was a true disconnect with Mardi Gras and the Circus type of feel that you had going on.

Food - overall the food was terrible. The breakfasts were good, Mexican lunch was great, and dinner the final night was good also. Otherwise it wasn't tasty at all.

Travel Between Sessions - We needed more time to travel to the other buildings between sessions. I missed out on two of the sessions that I wanted to attend because they were already too full.

I always look forward to my trips to Instructurecon! I've always come back with an abundance of new ideas and information to share with those at my institution. This year just wasn't my year. Sadly, many from my state felt the exact same way. It is an expensive trip to not come back with the knowledge that I was so desperately seeking.

Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Longer time between sessions - give everyone the appropriate time to get from one building to the next, while still waiting on shuttles/go-carts
  2. Allow everyone to sign up for sessions PRIOR to the conference. I've attended many educational conferences and most require that you sign up for breakout sessions in advance. If you aren't on the list, you have to wait in line to see if there is additional space
  3. Create tracks that include Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced. This year was either beginner or advanced (coding)

I hate to provide negative feedback, but know that no change can be truly implemented without honest feedback from participants. I will also voice my concerns in the survey. Thank you for all that you do!

 @buffy_matthews ​

This is a great feedback.  Can I ask some follow-up questions:

  1. What topics were you looking for that you want to know more about.  This may help others as they consider proposals for next years conference.
  2. Now that you are experienced Canvas users and you have attended Instcon a couple times how can you give back.  What is your expertise that you could propose a session on that would contribute to greater learning for everyone?
  3. Do you have any other ideas to challenge and stretch our instcon veterans?

I was wondering when the survey was going to be available?


0 Kudos

Well, if you are asking….

First, let’s (meaning users) keep in mind that Instructure is a for-profit company and if Instructurecon did not “pencil out” in the business sense it would not happen. Instructurecon is a huge logistical feat and very expensive even with the fees charged. It really is a huge PR marketing event that happens to be useful and a brilliant way to build community – it helps make Canvas a "sticky" platform.

And I think that is key, the idea that Canvas is a platform (and not an LMS per se), and like all technology platforms it becomes an infrastructure for actions by others (think Apple App Store). This platform approach is part of genius behind Instructure’s success, that and running it using a modern SAS model.

What makes a good conference is, I think, what make a good conference session:

  • Practical: show me how to do X [mechanical/technical]
  • Actual: tell me how to use x in context [examples]
  • Conceptual: tell me why I should use x [how does it meet broader pedagogical goals?]

I would add that (as we say in Santa Cruz) it also is a chance to be less bummed out and get stoked around geeking out with like-minded folks.

So, here is (IMHO) what I think we should be looking to do in future Instructurecons.

Better Detail on Sessions

When people submit session proposals, have them fill out a form that provides basic information on the topic.

  • Track (K-12, Higher Ed, etc.)
  • Intended audience (teachers/designers/technical/admin)
  • Level of access/expertise needed
  • The main take-aways (what will you leave with knowing).

This will also help staff balance the program so there is something for everyone and that sessions of similar interest are not scheduled again each other.

Presenter ID Badges with the session title. Easier to spot people and maybe ask questions about sessions, especially if you missed one.

Chill-lax Zones

Have spaces, like a Canvas Café, where we can go and meet participants and staff (where it is quiet) and have good discussions. For me, these discussions are always the meat of any conference.

Get Meta

Over four Instructurecons I have talked to maybe 100 peers ranging from instructional designers, to technical staff, to teachers, and administrators in K-12, higher ed, and corporate training, not to mention dozens of vendors and staff. Without exception we all know and generally agree what the challenges are (outside of pay and funding) for education broadly and feel that Canvas provides a platform, and an opportunity, to structurally address some of these issues.

Therefore, I would like to see some salons where we can discuss some of the big issues that face the future of education and how we can take action to take education where it needs to go. Sort of an informal think tank. This would be less about politics and more about structural changes.

Make/Collect Data

Instructurecon would be a great opportunity to conduct focus groups on different uses and aspects of Canvas. For example, when looking at the new Speedgrader, one of the UI team showed my how the “to do” list would pop up after completing grading and I asked if I could turn that off. He was surprised and I told him I do not use the To Do List function, as it does not fit my grading process.  This is the type of qualitative feedback that Instructure is missing out on. It would be a huge benefit to both users and Instructure. Granted, as a qualitative social scientists I am bit bias, but why not use the opportunity to really grab some serious data from users?

Build Stuff

Perhaps have one or several projects we can all get together and work on that combine technical and instructional design/teaching skills that we can post on the Commons.

Conversely, have those who have build innovative resources hang out and help people make their own or give them a tour. For example, students commons and advising hubs.


Community Champion


It was my first time attending the Conference and I love the Canvas Community even more after attending. Everyone working there were so helpful and fun! Please do not ever move this out of Park City to places like Orlando or Las Vegas as I believe you would lose the community feel!

I wish Game Night was offered more than just one night. I don’t drink and as someone stated it would have been nice to exchange the drink tickets for swag. Thank goodness for the Farm – great food but was not impressed at all on the food outside of the Farm. On the night of the food trucks I heard quite a bit of grumbling in line about how long it was taking to get the food.

I thought a few sessions were geared towards beginners and thought it might be helpful to mark them as beginner, intermediate, advanced or better descriptions. Half hour sessions were just a little short for me. One of my sessions they used videos for most of the presentation – that was kind of sad as I wanted to hear from them and not watch videos (would have loved to watch the videos later at my convenience).

Keynotes were great but the presentation by Josh Coates was really long and I was hoping that he would have tied it into the new interface instead of waiting until the general session.

I love Canvas and loved meeting all the members of the Canvas community!